Anand SahasranamanStart date: 01-10-2015
Academic department: Mathematics
Title of research project: Understanding Cities as Complex Systems
Academic supervisor: Professor Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen
Native country: India

How has the scholarship award enabled you to pursue your ambitions?

I had been very keen to work with Professor Henrik Jensen, and pursue a PhD under his guidance, on the application of complex systems approaches to problems in the social sciences. While I was convinced that a partnership with him would be ideal for my PhD, it was also apparent that I would not be able to enrol at Imperial without significant financial support, considering overseas tuition fees and living expenses in London. The Schrödinger scholarship, covering tuition fees and a substantial portion of living expenses, was therefore essential for me to come over and pursue a PhD at Imperial.

Why did you choose to study at Imperial?

I have been interested in understanding economic and social processes – such as segregation and income inequality – as emergent outcomes resulting from the interactions of individual agents, and have long felt that complex systems might offer us the tools to enable such an understanding. As I looked for PhD programs where I could pursue my interests, I came across the Centre for Complexity Sciences at Imperial, and was struck by the breadth of its research scope. I reached out to Professor Henrik Jensen, and found that we shared the common belief that the tools of complex systems might offer us new insights into socio-economic processes. As our conversation progressed, it became clear that situating my research at the Centre for Complexity Sciences under the supervision of Professor Jensen would be ideal for the pursuit of my particular interests.

What have you been up to on the programme so far?

Since my research interests were quite clear as I came into the PhD, my supervisor and I have been able to tailor coursework to fit my needs and also to start on the research reasonably quickly. Overall, I have found the research environment to be very stimulating, and my supervisor has provided me both technical advice and mentorship that has enabled the smooth progression of our research agenda. We have been able to publish a research paper on the dynamics of de-segregation in PLoS One, and have a second paper on the dynamics of change in long term economic status of city neighborhoods under review there. We have also started an exploration of the emergence of income inequality as an evolutionary process.